Residents evacuated after blaze at Elm Park shop

RESIDENTS living above a shop had to be evacuated in the early hours of this morning after a fire tore through the shop below.

Around nine people were forced to flee their homes before firefighters arrived at the incident at Readings Property Services in Elm Park Avenue, Elm Park on Tuesday February 1 at around 1.05am.

Resident, Julie Lucas was first alerted to the fire after smelling smoke in her flat and when she looked outside she saw a passer by who told her that there was a fire in the shop.

Julie said: “It was quite worrying because there was just a really strong smell of smoke all over the place and I was getting worried because I was not sure if it was coming from the flats or the shop.”

When crews from Hornchurch, Romford and Dagenham fire stations arrived all the residents had already left the building and using specialist breathing equipment and a water jet pump they managed to out the fire.

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The owner of the shop Lee Reading was told about what had happened at around 3am by one of the staff who was contacted by the residents.

He arrived at the shop at around 3am this morning.

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He said: “It was really disappointing when I saw everything.

“I have been here for 12 years and I have never seen anything like this before, but I think we are lucky in a way because if the passer by and the neighbour had not spotted it then things could have been much worse.”

Around one quarter of the ground floor has been damaged by the blaze and there is also lots of damage caused by the smoke.

Lee said that all of the business from the shop has been transferred to their other store, which is just two doors away.

He said: “Business hasn’t really been affected because we have this other shop just two doors away, but everything has been damaged inside including all the equipment and we have to contact the insurers.

“We don’t know how much the repairs will cost but it could run into the �1,000s, its not the ideal thing to happen at this time.”

The flats above have been left with lots of smoke damage caused by the fire.

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation but it is believed to have been caused by an electric fault.

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